Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Wild Rose Book Review

The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

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It is London, 1914. World War I looms on the horizon, women are fighting for the right to vote, and explorers are pushing the limits of endurance in the most forbidding corners of the earth. Into this volatile time, Jennifer Donnelly places her vivid and memorable characters, continuing the story of the Finnegan family. With fabulous period detail, myriad twists and turns, and thrilling cliff-hangers, The Wild Rose is the highly satisfying conclusion to an unforgettable trilogy that being with The Tea Rose and continued with The Winter Rose - and an utterly captivating read in its own right.

Review by Brittany:

This novel is the third in the Tea Rose trilogy, the other two of which I thoroughly enjoyed. These period novels throw in a bit of extra drama and shock, which keeps me turning pages waiting to find out what happens.

In this book, the focus is shifted onto Seamie Finnegan moreso than the other Finnegans. Seamie is in his early thirties now and a renowned explorer, but he feels as if it might be time for him to think about settling down. After what happened with Willa in the previous novel, his heart is still broken, and he doesn't know if he'll ever be able to find someone who feels worth pursuing again. Enter Jennie Wilcott, teacher daughter of a pastor who is immediately intrigued by Seamie.

While this is going on with Seamie, there is also the character Max von Brandt. He is one that was hard for me to put my finger on. I switched between thinking he was a bad guy and thinking he was a guy just doing what he had to do in such complicated, tumultuous times. I guess that's a pretty good indication of what a charmer he plays in the novels - he's so good that even the reader can't decide how to feel about him. By the end of the book, I still wasn't sure exactly what to think about him.

Willa Alden is back in this one, and I just feel so sorry for that girl. She had a tumultuous time in the last novel, and in this one she's back at the hands of bad karma. She has become a photographer and mapmaker, finding new pathways for others to climb the mountains she dreams of climbing but can't. When WWI breaks out, she uses her photography skills to help Britain uncover hidden camps of their enemies. This puts her in the hands of tortuous Turks and leaves her struggling to survive.

This one has a huge adoption conspiracy, threats of spies from Germany, and tumultuous kidnappings and reader longings for the "right ones" to get together. Basically, it's a little like a soap opera, but I absolutely love it. I think Donnelly is an amazing writer and gives enough drama to keep me turning pages, which also leaving me feeling like I'm a part of the history. I definitely recommend!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Damaged Book Review

Damaged by Lisa Scottoline

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Ten-year-old Patrick O'Brien is a natural target at school. Shy, dyslexic, and small for his age, he tries to hide his first-grade reading level from everyone: from his classmates, from the grandfather who cares for him, and from the teachers who are supposed to help him. But the real trouble begins when Patrick is accused of attacking a school aide. The aide promptly quits and sues the boy, his family, and the school district. Patrick's grandfather turns to the law firm of Rosato and DiNunzio for help and Mary DiNunzio is on the case. Soon Mary becomes Patrick's true champion and his only hope for security and justice. But there is more to the story than meets the eye and Patrick might be more troubled than he seems. With twists at every turn and secrets about the family coming to light, Mary DiNunzio might have found the case that can make her a true protector, or break her heart.

Review by Brittany:

I requested this book off of NetGalley because I'm a long-standing fan of Scottoline. I love the humorous way in which she writes all of her lawyer ladies, and I love the way she writes about the cases so that I feel like I know what's going on. 

This book deals with both the education system and family court for a boy who ends up orphaned in the book. As someone just starting a career in K-12 education, reading about Patrick's experiences in being undereducated because of his dyslexia and being bullied and even abused by his school aide was tough. Now I know kids who are similar to Patrick, and I could empathize with both Patrick and the school because of the struggles that come from having a classroom full of learners at different levels. His family situation was something else with which I was able to emphasize, making this book a page-turner for me.

I also love reading about Mary's family, including her extended family, The Tonys. While Mary's parents might not feature in the book much, Scottoline writes them in such a way that they always play a huge role. And who doesn't love parents who just want to feed their kids and totally support them?

Typical of Scottoline was the big twist at the end of the book, around the 80% mark on Kindle. That's when Mary starts piecing together the parts of the case that don't make much sense, and that's when the big conspiracy is discovered. Scottline always adds a bit of drama to her books, and this is where I found it in this one.

While this is going on, Mary is also preparing for her wedding in just under two weeks. Her emotional investment in Patrick's case puts a strain on her relationship, leaving the reader wondering what might happen to her and Anthony. Will they sort it out or call it quits?

I love Scottline and all of her books. She has a knack for writing page-turners with strong female characters who save the day. I loved this one and you might too!

Notable quote:

It struck her suddenly that the pull of being needed was just as strong as the pull of needing. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Maybe Someday Book Review

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

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At twenty-two years old, Sydney is enjoying a great life: she's in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her best friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers that Hunter is cheating on her - and she's forced to decide what her next move should be.

Soon, Sydney finds herself captivated by her mysterious and attractive neighbor, Ridge. She can't take her eyes off him or stop listening to the passionate way he plays his guitar every evening out on his balcony. And there's something about Sydney that Ridge can't ignore, either. They soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one.

Review by Brittany:

I have read previous novels by Hoover, and this one sounded like it would fit the bill the same as her other New Adult novels had. Because I enjoyed those so much, I one-clicked this one on Amazon.

This book is pretty quintessential for Hoover. They meet, they fall for each other. One's in a relationship so they feel tortured by their feelings, and in the end it works out.

If that's what you're looking for, this is a good read. When I bought this one, I was reading a lot of books of this type that fit this mold, so it seemed like an obvious purchase. Now that I've been reading a lot of other types of books, this one actually left me feeling a bit annoyed.

Why do all of these books have to end up with this working out perfectly? Ridge and Maggie just decide that they aren't suited to each other anymore, so Ridge and Sydney can be together. It ties up perfectly, very much not like real life. Nothing is messy, no one gets hurt, and it all works out like the reader wants it to. I've become the type of reader who much rather have a messy, soap opera type story than one that cleans up so nicely.

Overall, this book is good for what it is. You know exactly what you're going to get, so from that standpoint, it serves it's purpose. For me, it was just a little too neat.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Lost Kin Book Review


Lost Kin by Steve Anderson


Occupied Munich, 1946: Irina, a Cossack refugee, confesses to murdering a GI, but American captain Harry Kaspar doesn't buy it. As Harry scours the devastated city for the truth, it leads him to his long-lost German brother, Max, who returned to Hitler's Germany before the war.

Max has a questionable past, and he needs Harry for the cause that could redeem him - rescuing Irina's stranded clan of Cossacks who have been disowned by the Allies and are now being hunted by Soviet death squads - the cold-blooded upshot of a callous postwar policy.

As a harsh winter brews, the Soviets close in and the Cold War looms, Harry and Max desperately plan for a risky last-ditch rescue on a remote stretch of the German-Czech border. A mysterious visitor from Max's darkest days shadows them. Everyone is a suspect, including Harry's lover, Sabine, and Munich detective Hartmut Dietz - both of whom have pledged to help. But before the Kaspar brothers can save the innocent victims of peace, grave secrets and the deep contempt sown during the war threaten to damn them all.

Review by Brittany:

I requested this book on NetGalley because it appealed to the part of me that has been completely invested in WWII fiction. I have grown to love that time period and pretty much any book that deals with it.

It turns out that this book is actually part of a series, which I can happily say I didn't know. I love when books are part of a series but don't necessarily rely on the previous books to make sense. I can recognize that my reading experience might have been enhanced by reading the other books in the series, but I don't feel like I missed out on anything or fell behind in any part of the current story. It is primarily with Harry and Max's relationship that the extra reading would have been helpful.

There were parts of this story that moved a little slowly for me. In times when there was slower action, the story took on more dialogue, and I got a little lost in the terminology and the technicalities of the time period. I'm by no means an expert, so that did make some of the reading challenging for me.

I also wouldn't have called Harry and Sabine lovers. Reading that in the blurb seems to indicate a passionate affair of some sort, but to me it felt more like a quickly developed, one-time thing. I didn't buy into the relationship much at all, which was a bit of a letdown for me since I love the romance part of most books.

By the end of the book, I couldn't tell if things ended happily or not. The main goal for both Harry and Max was to rescue the Cossacks, but in the end that was tricky to do and only some of the people could be saved. While I guess that means there was some happy here, it definitely isn't a book that leaves the reader feeling as if everything is complete.

Overall, I found this book a bit difficult to read. It seems fairly historically accurate, with just enough fiction thrown in, but that makes it a bit dry at times. If this time period appeals to you, it's definitely worth picking up one of Anderson's novels.